Spraying© Tim Scrivener

Pesticide users looking to minimise the risk of chemicals reaching watercourses can earn CPD points by using an online tool designed to help them review their safety practices.

Called the Check it Out Tool, from the Voluntary Initiative, it gives users 22 multiple-choice questions to answer across four categories:

  • Planning and management
  • Materials handling
  • Soil management
  • Field practice

Upon completing the study, users will be given a score for each category and have the option to download a detailed report on how they can improve their practices.

See also: 3 pesticide approvals to look out for in 2017

All survey answers will be kept confidential by the Voluntary Initiative and personal information will be shared with City & Guilds or Basis only if CPD points are being claimed.

“Doing everything right in terms of water protection is really important if we are to show that farmers are continuing to use pesticides responsibly,” says Patrick Goldsworthy from the Voluntary Initiative.

Common culprits

Metaldehyde slug pellets are under threat of being withdrawn by regulators concerned about them being routinely detected in water supplies.

Defra is due to take a decision in March 2017 on whether a ban will be necessary to comply with European Union standards on minimising contamination in drinking water.

See also: One winter left to save metaldehyde: what is being done?

However, there are also several herbicides regularly being detected in surface water, including the oilseed rape actives carbetamide, clopyralid, metazachlor, propyzamide, and quinmerac.

Research conducted by the Voluntary Initiative estimates that 60% of water supply contamination occurs in the field, with the remaining 40% happening in the farmyard.